Has anyone seen wee man Dom? He has been out kayaking and I haven’t heard from him – am starting to worry…
This was the facebook post which began my nightmare. My brother Dom Jackson was an experienced and fit outdoor adventurer who loved the wilds of Scotland and he was now reported missing in freezing conditions after setting out for a short kayaking trip.
As with many accidents it was a series of events which led to his tragic death. A friend who changed plans at the last minute left Dom deciding to head out alone. A poor choice to protect his phone by storing it in a difficult to access rear hatch and then rapidly changing weather conditions which caught him unawares. When the worst happened and Dom found himself in trouble he didn’t stand a chance of gaining access to his phone. Freezing cold and alone, being pushed further out to sea , Dom’s final actions would have been resourceful to the end and he would have done everything he could to resist the inevitable.
Hope is what carried my family through the 5 days of searching with the RNLI, Police and HM Coastguard along treacherous cliffs and impossible coastline. Hope is what kept me going while coordinating a massive facebook and media campaign from Australia where I was living at the time, helping to organise hundreds of volunteers and relaying Dom’s story to millions of people around the country. Hope which gave way to a mixture of sheer relief and utter desolation when finally they found him and we could bring him home.
In just two years since those terrible few days, my young family and I have moved back to the UK after living in Australia for 9 years. Our children have started new schools and we have also started our charity Plan B to raise awareness of safety planning in adventure sports.
Plan B was set up after Dom’s death to try to ensure that this tragedy doesn’t happen to any other family. In particular we are raising awareness of Personal Locator Beacons (PLBs) which in an emergency use satellites to pinpoint your location to within metres and then send this information directly to the emergency services. Had Dom carried a PLB the outcome of his trip could have been very different and it may have saved his life – something we have to live with every day.